A cross section of Nigerians yesterday faulted the Federal Government’s decision to honour the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the service chiefs and the acting Inspector General of Police with National Awards.
ACM Badeh, Chief of Army Staff,Major General Kenneth Minimah,Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin,Chief of Air Staff,Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu and the Acting IGP, Mr.Sulaiman Abba are to be conferred with the nation’s second highest ranking award of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in Abuja on Monday.
Also on the list of the awardees which was released on Thursday, are Justices of the Supreme Court, Ministers, Governors, academics, sportsmen and women, the president’s steward and key players from the private sector.
Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Professor Ango Abdullahi, evaluating the list yesterday, queried the inclusion of the names of Badeh and the service chiefs in the awardees list.
He said the only reason could be that they are being rewarded for supporting the Boko Haram insurgency.
Kaduna based civil right activist, Comrade Shehu Sani, also described the decision as shameless in view of the massive security challenge in the country.
Abdullahi said sarcastically: “Well, the service chiefs are doing very well for supporting Boko Haram. So why can’t they be given honours?”
Asked whether their choice could have anything to do with their efforts in stemming the tide of terrorism, the NEF chief said: “I doubt so much if they have been trying to end the insurgency. If they had been trying, the insurgency should have been over by now.
“Already it has been revealed that there has been suspicion of complicity on the part of the military. Mr. Davis said so and then what else do you want? Chief of Army Staff connected to Boko Haram; so if a Chief of Army Staff is connected, so who else out of the rest would be out of it.
“We don’t know who is who now; we don’t know who is Boko Haram and who is Nigerian military. So, the award is uncalled for”.
Reacting to the awardees list via a Facebook post, Sani, who is the executive director of the Civil Rights Congress, said the conferment of national awards at this time is uncalled for.
“The nation bleeds, innocent people are being killed daily, millions displaced, Chibok girls still in captivity, soldiers on the frontlines and the hearts of their families beats; yet some Nigerians will dress gorgeously, step into the glitz of the Banquet Hall in Abuja on Monday and without shame or sympathy receive ‘the national award” for their ‘service to Nigeria”, he said.
Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Fred Agbaje, said the award does not inspire confidence. He said going by the list, it is obvious that government places no value on those who have contributed to the socio-political development of the country.
He said: “It is laughable, short of mentioning names; it is like those who compiled the list have not done their homework.
“Some actors and actresses made the list but the professors who taught people like us, they don’t deserve it. No country develops under such atmosphere. The government did not do its home work. The list does not inspire confidence”.
A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abubakar Tsav, in his reaction, pointed out that the National Merit Award has lost its meaning in Nigeria.
He said: “It is worthless. They no longer give people who deserve it. It is not somebody who is working and is paid very well…Somebody is cooking food for the President and he is enjoying it, and because he is enjoying it, he should be given a special honour”.